Celebrate the Career of Dr. Andrew Froelich

Dr. Andrew FroelichDr. Andrew Froelich, professor of piano at the North Dakota State University School of Music, will retire in May 2014 after 43 years of dedicated service.

Special events are in the works, be sure to check this site for details.  In the meantime, please send your best wishes to Dr. Froelich in the comments below.

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What Opera Means To Me featuring Travis Bregier

What Opera Means To Me

This video is the second installment featuring Die Fledermaus cast members as they discuss the importance of opera in their lives.

Die Fledermaus, presented by the NDSU Opera Theatre, runs May 6 and 8 in Festival Concert Hall.  Tickets and additional information can be found online at www.ndsu.edu/finearts.

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Hallo from Norway!

NDSU Theatre Arts major Seth Eberle is interning in Norway this spring as a scenography intern for the European touring production of the opera Teskjekjerringa og prinsesse Pompadur (Mrs. Pepperpot and Princess Pompadour), based on the stories of Alf Prøysen.  Seth is in his third year at NDSU and is a native of Bismarck, ND.

Q: I understand this internship was create through Pavel Dobrusky, assistant professor with NDSU Theatre.  Could you please explain what interested you in applying for this internship?

Seth: Pavel did create the internship and I applied.  I applied because I am interested in puppetry.  There is one large-scale puppet in this production.  However, I also applied because, as a puppeteer, I am interested in how all aspects of a production work together in order to tell a complete story.  Since Pavel is a scenographer and designs all parts of a production, I am interested in how he works, thinks, and creates the designs to work with each other.  I am also interested in his views as a theatre artist.  Therefore, I wanted to be his assistant on this production.

Q: What has been the most exciting experience so far?

Seth: The most exciting experience thus far has been getting a compliment from the director, Stein Winge, after we painted a bunch of props with UV reflective paint so that they would shine under black light and being called carrot or gulrot by him.  Another exciting experience has been creating small crafts and costume constructions for Pavel in order to help him carry out his designs under the supervision of a Norwegian costumer.  It is good to know that the craft skills taught in the theatre and art department at NDSU are applicable outside of it.

Q. What is the most challenging part of this internship?

Seth:  The most challenging part of the internship is attempting to communicate with young children in another language in order to keep them safe and quiet backstage.

Q: What do you feel you will take away from this experience?

Seth:  I think that I will be able to take away several things.  One of them is an appreciation for how people are the same no matter where you go.  Human nature is always similar which is really quite a comfort.  Another thing that I can take away from this experience is that I have been able to see the collaborative process amongst theatre professionals.  I have been able to see the differences between European and American theatre as well as look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.  Finally, I will be able to make connections in Europe that I may be able to keep throughout my professional career.

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?  People (puppets?) you’ve met?  Thoughts on traveling to Norway?

Seth:  I have been able to touch the headpiece for a puppet for the London production of The Lion King because one of the craftspeople was touring a show through the same theatre at which we were working, which was very excellent.  I got to hear her views on working with Julie Taymor, the stage and film director.

I also met several people from the European Voluntary Service, which is an organization sponsored by the European Union.  It allows people from other countries to volunteer in a completely other country for nine months.  Living expenses are paid by the European Union.  The hope is that young people will learn about the culture and languages of other countries.  They will also be able to network with other people in order to establish connections.  They have been great people and very useful for learning words in Norwegian.

I also met Hannah who is from Idaho and assisting on this production.  We have been able to lean on each other and help each other adjust to the new environment as well as learn design ideas, theatre, and ideas on life from her.

Traveling to Norway was less of a culture shock than I expected.  This is because most people speak English.  However, they speak it in the exact same way that people in Fargo do.  American culture is also everywhere.  However, it is slightly different or warped in a European way.

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What Opera Means To Me

Opera.  It brings to mind images of large women wearing horned hats, singing high notes that make glasses break and chandeliers tremble.  Or, for some of us, opera brings to mind Bugs Bunny in The Rabbit of Seville.

NDSU Opera Theatre, however, is out to challenge these perceptions of opera with their upcoming production of Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II.  Die Fledermaus (The Bat) is not tragic, nobody dies, and lovers are not torn apart forever due to cruel fate.  Instead, Die Fledermaus is a light-hearted story of a friendly practical joke gone somewhat awry.  It is full of the froth of the Belle Epoch and contains some of Strauss’ most beautiful music and whirling waltzes.

Members of the NDSU Opera Theatre have felt that opera has made an impact on their lives, often long before college.  They want to share these experiences with you through a series of videos, which will be released weekly through May 2.  Videos can be found online at What Opera Means To Me.

Die Fledermaus run May 6 at 7:30 PM and May 8 at 2 PM in Festival Concert Hall.  Tickets can be purchased online at www.ndsu.edu/finearts.

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Sandbag Art Project

Just imagine it is late in the day, it’s cold and you are wet from volunteering in the sandbag line for the last couple of hours.  Just as you are about to give up, you come across a bag that says “Uffda” or features a picture of William Shatner.  Chances are you’ll point this out to your neighbor, who will point it out to the person next to him, and so on. It will lift your spirits and create an even tighter sense of community not only for those around you, but for those who created the Sandbag Art.

NDSU Visual Arts Department Head, Michael Strand, felt this year he could utilize the talents of the young, old, and in-between to impact morale on the sandbag line.  He organized students to tag, or paint, speech bubbles on 3,000 sandbags provided by the city.  They are now delivering sandbags to area nursing homes, schools, and senior centers so volunteers who can’t lift a sandbag, can lift morale with a stroke of a pen.

Strand believes the Sandbag Art project is not about the image on the bag, but the gesture of allowing everybody the opportunity to contribute to the flood fight.  The bonus is some amazing sandbags protecting our city.

So far the project is exceeding expectations.  Strand visited Waterford yesterday and received some amazing messages from residents, including:

“The image of older people being childish, brainless, and useless was erased when forty of Waterford residents put verse and saying on sandbags.”

“What is wonderful about this is we are able to do the one thing we are great at…lifting spirits.”

“At our age, we often wish we could help but don’t know how.  Just a word of encouragement might help-we hope so.”

Strand and NDSU Visual Arts students will continue to deliver sandbags to area organizations.

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“Oklahoma!” Love Affair

From the program notes of Hardy Koenig, director

Why do we have a love affair with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!?

The quick answer is that it works.  The music is fantastic, it is catchy, and the lyrics move the plot.  The story is appealing as we are introduced to characters that we either root for or against, we love or hate, and the characters and stories can make us laugh and cry.  We see life in the Oklahoma Territory shortly before statehood when survival wasn’t assumed and friends and enemies could mean the difference between a hard life and a VERY hard life.

NDSU Theatre felt there were new lessons to be learned and new moments to be enjoyed in the mounting of this musical.  Although odds are pretty good that Laurey will end up with Curly, for the sake of discovery and a good story, let’s not assume that they will ride off into the sunset in the surrey with the fringe on top.  This was a time when survival and the quest for love and family was a real struggle.  Life wasn’t always easy, but there were still many reasons to admire a beautiful sunrise and to sing and dance for the pure joy of being alive.

NDSU Little Country Theatre is presenting Oklahoma! February 23-27 at Festival Concert Hall.  Tickets and show details can be found online at www.ndsu.edu/finearts.

Buy your tickets online!

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Warm-Up With NDSU Fine Arts Events!

It’s cold outside, roads are slippery, and pedestrians are dropping like flies on the icy sidewalks.  Welcome to Fargo in January!  While these conditions make it difficult to think about spring, that is what I’m thinking about because NDSU Fine Arts has some amazing events planned!

We are honored to host award-winning Broadway composer/lyricist ANDREW LIPPA this semester.  Mr. Lippa composed the music for The Addams Family, currently one of the most popular shows on Broadway, in addition to The Wild Side, john & jen, and many more.  Additionally, he is the music director for the talented and lovely Kristin Chenowith.  Mr. Lippa will spend the semester working with students, presenting masterclasses, and delight us with an evening of his music on February 18.

The Little Country Theatre will make history in February by presenting their first Rodgers and Hammerstein production OKLAHOMA!.  Directed by new faculty member Hardy Koenig, this heartland love triangle will have you singing along to “Oh What A Beautiful Morning,” and “Surrey With The Fringe On Top.”

March brings us an exhibition by JAMES SHAM, our 2011 James  Rosenquist Artist in Residence.  Now in it’s fifth year, this program allows young artists the opportunity to work with students while exploring their own art.  We are excited to work with Mr. Sham and will keep you up to date with his activities.

The semester ends in May with NDSU Opera Theatre’s production of DIE FLEDERMAUS.  Written by Johann Strauss II, this lighthearted opera about a practical joke gone awry will enchant young and old alike.

For more information about these events, in addition to the numerous concerts, exhibitions, productions, and recitals, please visit www.ndsu.edu/finearts.

Don’t miss out!  Sign-up to receive in-depth event information via email at http://www.ndsu.edu/finearts/calendar/events/index.php?com=signup

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Random Act of Culture!

Watch the videos on YouTube:  Hallelujah Chorus

This afternoon NDSU Concert Choir and Choir Alumni surprised shoppers at West Acres and Scheels All Sports with a Random Act of Culture.  Nearly 100 vocalists gathered among the crowds to perform the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah.  It was amazing!  The singing was wonderful and it was great to see so many shoppers taking pictures and video.  I think we can safely say we made their shopping experience a little bit brighter with this Random Act of Culture.

Many thanks to West Acres Shopping Center and Scheels All Sports!  The management and staff were truly helpful and we couldn’t have done this without their support.

Additional thanks to NDSU BisonArts, sponsor of this Random Act of Culture.


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Let It Snow!

This morning brings the first major snowfall to Fargo and it is beautiful, isn’t it?  It is the perfect Holiday Snow: light and fluffy with no wind.  The trees and houses on Eighth Street South were definitely worthy of being on this year’s holiday card.   I have to confess this snow does put me in the holiday spirit and NDSU Fine Arts has some beautiful holiday concerts you don’t want to miss.

First of all, I love the Madrigal Dinners because the music is perfect for the holidays.  The Madrigal Singers perform a variety of songs, some familiar, some not.  This year they will be performing Un Flambeau, Jeanette Isabelle, arranged by Stephen Hatfield; Cradle Song by John Rutter and prepared by our very own Eric Saari; and Hodie, Christus natus est by Healy Willan, to name a few pieces.  Every year they perform the Fissinger version of Silent Night.  It is performed near the end of the evening and the only light is provided by candles.  As the choir silently forms a circle around the audience and begins to sing, I see many people wipe the tears from their eyes.  It is such a beautiful performance and even though it makes me emotional, I look forward to hearing this music all year long.  It is worth the wait.

The NDSU Concert Choir and Baroque Festival Orchestra will perform Handel’s Messiah on Sunday, December 12 at 2 PM in Festival Concert Hall.  This annual event attracts huge crowds every year and the musicians do an excellent job with this fairly difficult piece.  Naturally everybody knows the Hallelujah Chorus, but do you know why people stand during this piece?  Nobody knows exactly why, but apparently King George stood at this moment during a performance in 1743.  It is unknown if he stood to stretch his legs or, if due to a hearing impairment he thought it was the national anthem, or if he stood out of respect for the performers.  Regardless, audiences continue to follow this tradition and stand during the Hallelujah Chorus.  We have am audio clip of this piece on our web site, performed in 2009 by the NDSU Concert Choir.

Tickets for the Madrigal Dinners and Handel’s Messiah can be purchased by calling the NDSU Fine Arts Box Office at 701.231.7969.  It is the perfect way to celebrate the beauty of the holiday season.

Enjoy the snow!

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Baroque Chamber Concert This Weekend

I am happy to announce the NDSU Baroque Festival Chamber Concert is Saturday, November 6 at 7:30 PM at Messiah Lutheran Church.  I understand you are probably thinking “Oh, Baroque music” without much enthusiasm, but I promise you this concert will change your mind.  The music selected is beautiful and the musicians are the finest in the region.

Dr. Virginia Sublett is the soprano soloist for Jauchzett Gott in allen Landen by J.S. Bach. Dr. Sublett has performed both nationally and internationally and personally, I could listen to her sing all day.  She is an amazing performer.  Additionally, Dr. Benjamin Sung (everybody’s favorite violinist!) will perform on this piece as will Dr. Jeremy Brekke and Jihye Chang on piano.  Our new flute instructor, Jenny Poehls, will perform on the Trio Sonata in G Major by Bach and Dr. Katherine Noone is the featured soloist for the Recitative and Aria from Guilio Cesare.  I love the aria:

I will bemoan my fate
So cruel and brutal,
As long as there is breath left in my body
And when I am dead and become a ghost,
I will haunt tyranny night and day.

Not what you expect from Baroque Music, huh?

The concert continues with graduate students and Dr. Robert Jones performing Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied by Telemann and professional musicians will present Haydn’s Concerto in F Major.  The evening ends with a piece by the NDSU Faculty Brass Quintet.

Tickets can be purchased by calling NDSU Fine Arts Box Office at 701.231.7969.  Give this performance a shot, it will truly change your mind about the beauty, power, and variety of Baroque Music.

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